SC notice to Centre, others on COAI plea

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: May 10 2012, 06:06am hrs
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought reply from the Centre and others on the Cellular Operators Association of Indias plea seeking a direction to the government to take back GSM spectrum allocated to Reliance Communications (RCom), Tata Teleservices, Shyam Group and HFCL in 2007 and redistribute the same through auctions as laid down in its February 2 judgment.

The industry body representing leading GSM operators sought to quash the DoTs decision of October 18, 2007 that allowed the four telecom companies to offer services on both GSM and CDMA platforms, saying such decision was arbitrary and and malafide.

A bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir sought reply from the DoT, telecom regulator Trai, RCom, Tata Tele, HFCL and others on the issue.

Seeking to declare dual-technology licences granted to these telecom firms as mala fide, COAI said that in the light of the apex courts decision on February 2, which cancelled 122 licences granted by the former telecom minister A Raja in 2008, the GSM spectrum should be taken back and re-distributed through auction in terms of the ruling.

The GSM operators group has submitted that the governments decision permitting dual use of spectrum was illegal and "ought to be set aside and quashed in principle laid down in the judgment of this court of February 2 which set aside and declared that licence and subsequent allocation of pursuant to two press releases issued on 10.1.2008 are illegal and are quashed, senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the body, argued.

According to the counsel, the government's decision to grant dual-technology licences was illegal since it fell between September 2007 and March 2008 (under the leadership of former telecom minister A Raja), the same time other mobile permits were given that were quashed by the apex court in its February 2 verdict.